Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 10, 2014 | Mental Health America

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Mental Health in the Headlines: Week of March 10, 2014





Administration Drops Proposed Changes to Medicare Part D Drug Coverage (see story below).

Denise Marzullo, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida, was interviewed by ABC News on what could have caused a woman to drive her van with three children into the surf.

Patrick Hendry of Mental Health America Wins 2014 Reintegration Lifetime Achievement Award.

Debbie Plotnick, Senior Director of State Policy at Mental Health America, writes on CNN on How to Stop Tragic Shootings of People with Mental Illness.

Mental Health America Faults Rep. Tim Murphy’s Legislation for Jeopardizing Role for Consumers and Their Recovery.

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace: Mental Health America has released a toolkit with a wealth of information and resources.

Mental Health America Produces Comprehensive, Objective Resource Describing Principal Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Mental Health Conditions.

The MHA Career Center matches the best employers with the best talent in the mental health field.  Find your employment match at


SAMHSA Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Toolkit: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has released a training resource toolkit, developed through the Enrollment Coalitions Initiative, entitled “Getting Ready for the Health Insurance Marketplace.”  The toolkit will assist organizations with outreach, education and enrollment of individuals in the Health Insurance Marketplace. It is composed of three sections: A description of the health care law, how it works, and why it is important for uninsured individuals with behavioral health conditions; An explanation of how the Health Insurance Marketplace works, how to apply for health coverage and where to get help; and Numerous communication ideas and materials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that can be used to raise awareness and encourage uninsured individuals to enroll. The toolkit has been developed in six slightly different 30-minute, interactive formats, each of which can be accessed and viewed online: (General information);;;;;


Administration Drops Proposed Changes to Medicare Part D Drug Coverage: The Obama administration is abandoning a plan to limit Medicare coverage for certain classes of drugs, including those used to treat depression and schizophrenia. Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, alerted lawmakers Monday that her agency would not finalize regulations giving insurers more leeway to limit the number of drugs they cover for Medicare beneficiaries. Advocacy groups and Members of Congress vigorously opposed the change, which they argued would have hampered access to necessary medications. Tavenner's announcement means six classes of prescription drugs will continue to be subject to strict rules that would require that nearly all drugs in the classes be covered under Medicare. “We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” Tavenner wrote in a letter to lawmakers. (The Hill, 3/10/14)

New Mental Health Funding Included In Administration's FY 2015 Budget Request: New funding requests for mental health programs aimed at helping adolescents and communities are included as part of the Obama administration's proposed $1 trillion budget for federal health programs in fiscal year 2015. The president's budget blueprint, submitted to Congress March 4, would provide $130 million to support the administration's “Now is the Time Initiative” aimed at addressing behavioral health problems among young people and training educators and other professionals to identify those in need of help. The initiative, which was announced in early 2013, would be part of a proposed $3.3 billion budget for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. The initiative would enable nearly 750,000 young people every year to obtain mental health treatment “through programs to promote mental health, prevent violence, identify mental illness early and create a clear pathway to treatment for those in need, including through additional outreach and improvements in workforce data collection,” according to a summary of the HHS budget. As part of the $130 million initiative, $55 million would fund efforts to help states and communities provide behavioral health treatments for students and equip adults to detect behavior problems among young people. Another $40 million would fund workforce programs aimed at increasing the number of licensed professionals available to serve in communities across the nation. In addition, a $10 million Peer Professional program would be established to increase the number of health/addiction specialists, prevention specialists and counselors to help those in need of treatment. A $20 million Health Transitions program would support innovative state-based strategies to help young people and their families gain access to and navigate behavioral health treatment systems. Finally, $5 million would fund a program to “change the attitudes of Americans about mental and substance use disorders,” as well as improve data collection and analysis of behavioral health needs in the workforce. Although the administration's spending proposals are unlikely to be enacted by Congress as submitted, they can serve as road maps in guiding negotiations on appropriations. (MHH Reporting, 3/10/14)

Moving out of Poor Neighborhood Affects Boys Differently than Girls: Boys who move out of poor neighborhoods into more affluent surroundings reported higher rates of depression and conduct disorder than their female peers, according to a new study. One reason for this distinction might be how boys and girls are seen by their new neighbors, said lead researcher Ronald Kessler, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. When a boy comes from a poor neighborhood to a better neighborhood, he is automatically seen as a "juvenile delinquent," and people treat him differently, he said. Kessler’s study was conducted using data from Moving to Opportunity (MTO), a decades-spanning housing mobility experiment financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Within this project, 4,604 volunteer families with 3,689 children were randomly divided into three groups. Two of them received different versions of rent-subsidy vouchers that enabled them to move into a better neighborhood. A control group did not move. In follow-up interviews conducted 10 to 15 years later, boys reported higher proportions of major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and conduct disorder than boys within the control group—rates of PTSD comparable to those of combat soldiers. The opposite occurred with girls, who reported mental health that was substantially better than the girls who stayed in high-poverty neighborhoods. (HealthDay News, 3/5/14)

Kids with ADHD More Likely to be Obese: Kids who had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) during childhood were more likely to be inactive and obese as teens, according to a new study. Researchers, whose findings are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, followed nearly 7,000 children in Finland and found that the 9 percent who had symptoms of ADHD at age eight were more likely to be physically inactive and obese at age 16. The investigators also found that children who were less likely to be physically active at age 8 were more likely to have inattention when they were teens. They also found that "conduct disorder," which is related to ADHD, increased the risk of teen physical inactivity and obesity. Although the study found an association between childhood ADHD and increased risk for teen inactivity and obesity, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. (HealthDay News, 3/6/14)

Australian Survey Finds More People Willing to Disclose Mental Health Problems: A survey conducted in Australia has found that people are more willing to disclose having a mental health problem and receiving treatment. It also found improved knowledge and beliefs about mental health problems within the community. Researchers said they believe this is due, in part, to educational campaigns about mental. The new study took into account surveys conducted on similar topics since 1995. Researchers found that in 1995, 45 percent of people said they knew someone with some form of mental health problem. This number increased to 71 percent by 2011. Researchers noted that this increase in willingness to disclose is most likely due to changing attitudes towards and greater awareness of mental health problems, rather than more people having mental health problems or more people seeking treatment. The study also revealed that in the years 2003, 2004 and 2011, females were more likely than males to disclose experiencing depression. (, 3/9/14)

Suicide Prevention Legislation Introduced: Congressman Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) and Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) have introduced the Suicide Prevention Research Innovation Act, which authorizes $40 million for the National Institute of Mental Health for research to reduce the risk of self-harm, suicide, and interpersonal violence and carry out the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. (Explorer News, 2/28/14)


The Washington Post examines the high suicide rate among Native American kids.

The Boston Globe reports “Teens’ brains make them more vulnerable to suicide.”

The New York Times looks at “Can Children Inherit Stress?”

The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) has announced the nominees for the 18th Annual PRISM Awards, which honor TV, movie, music, online, and comic book entertainment that accurately depicts drug, alcohol and tobacco use and addiction, as well as mental health issues.

ProPublica looks at “Why Hospitals Are Failing Civilians Who Get PTSD.”

Latest Research

Hearing Loss Associated with Depression: Hearing loss is associated with depression among American adults, especially women and those younger than age 70, according to a new study. Researchers, whose findings are published in in JAMA Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery, found that as hearing declined, the percentage of depressed adults increased—from about 5 percent in those who had no hearing problems to more than 11 percent in those who did. For the study, researchers looked at data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, including more than 18,000 adults aged 18 and older. The younger people self-reported on their hearing status, while hearing tests were given to those 70 and older. All participants filled out a questionnaire designed to reveal depression. As hearing loss became worse, the depression did, too, except among those who were deaf. Hearing loss was linked with an increased risk of depression in adults of all ages, but was most pronounced in the respondents aged 18 to 69, the investigators found. Women had higher rates of depression than men did. (HealthDay News, 3/6/14)


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Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations.

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